Do you believe in magic? If you're a woman, new research shows you're more likely to than a man, thanks in part to 'female intuition'. Yep, scientists say that gut feeling is very much a real thing and that because women are more likely to tap into it (and rely on it to make decisions), they're also more likely to believe in the supernatural.
“I was really intrigued to understand why, across the world, women tend to be more likely than men to report beliefs in magical phenomena like ghosts and haunted houses,” said Sarah Ward, study author and an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, according to a report on PsyPost. Karma, fate and miracles were also highlighted.
“I suspected that women’s higher preference for using intuition explained why they were more likely to believe in magical phenomena and superstitions,” she added.
In four studies (with just over 2,500 participants), the results of which were published in the Journal of Research and Personality, women repeatedly endorsed magical beliefs over their male counterparts. Women also said the relied more on intuition and netted lower scores on a cognitive reflection test (which examines the individual's tendency to ignore an incorrect gut reaction) – both of which link to having stronger beliefs in magic.
Interestingly, the studies also showed that men's endorsement of magical beliefs increased when their trust in their intuition was experimentally increased.
“People who trust their intuition and rely on their gut feelings and hunches are much more likely to believe in magic and superstitions. Women trust their intuition more strongly than men do, which helps account for why they express higher beliefs in phenomena like ghosts, fate, and karma,” said Ward.
“Although some antiquated stereotypes have portrayed women’s higher magical beliefs as caused by lower rationality or intelligence, this was not supported in the data. Women and men did not differ in analytical reasoning capacities or intelligence in these studies, showing the inaccuracy of these early stereotypes for gender differences in magical beliefs.”
She also explained that other factors come into play when it comes to believing in the occult, such as feeling a sense of control. "Men tend to feel a higher sense of control than women do, which might also explain why they are less likely to believe in magical phenomena."
Ward noted too that "educated, intelligent adults all over the world [hold magical beliefs]" but many won't admit to them in public.
The study also threw up another interesting question: if men are less likely to believe in things like fate, why do they tend to gamble more than women? It could be due to women taking less risks, says Ward.
“Men tend to exhibit higher magical beliefs and superstitions when it comes to gambling and sports, but not in many other life domains. Perhaps, men are more inclined to express magical beliefs in contexts that provide more opportunities for winning or personal gain.”
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